Date February 20, 2024
Media Contact

Photos: Tink Knit empowers Providence-area moms through knitting

By teaching single mothers how to knit and creating avenues for sales, the student-led nonprofit is opening doors to new income streams for Rhode Islanders, one handknit hat a time.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For some people, knitting is much more than needles and yarn. It’s a creative outlet, a stress reliever and a way to create heartfelt gifts.

And for a group of Providence-area parents, new to the world of knitting, the craft is an opportunity — an income opportunity — thanks to a social venture led by Brown University students.

Tink Knit, a student-led nonprofit that involves 15 Brown undergraduates, has opened doors for more than 100 single mothers in the local community by empowering them to earn a small, part-time income through the art of knitting.

So how does the nonprofit turn knitwear into a nest egg for local moms?

Every year, Brown students run a workshop, often online, teaching single parents to knit using a loom. Yarn and other supplies are then sent home to participants through Tink Knit’s partner, Meeting Street, which provides a home-visits program to support families with young children as part of Healthy Families Rhode Island. Once trained, the parents began crafting hats, scarves and other knitwear that is ultimately sold at the Brown Bookstore, through pop-up shops in College Hill and online. For every item sold, 100% of the profits are returned to the mothers.

With frigid temperatures outside Brown’s Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center in mid-February, students from Tink Knit held a pop-up sale near the Blue Room café, selling winter hats and other items. Since 2014, Tink Knit has generated more than $50,000 in revenue for parents participating in the program.

Jasmine Xi, a sophomore double concentrating in biology and economics at Brown and co-president of Tink Knit, said the student-led venture, formed in 2014 by then Brown students Julia Xu and Julia Xu (no relation), was established to reach a population often in need.

“At the time, single parents in Rhode Island had a high risk of unemployment; for moms specifically, it was three times the average rate,” Xi said. “Tink Knit was formed on this idea of finding creative ways for single moms to earn a supplemental income through crafting while they could still be at home with their families.”

Iesha Rocha, program manager for the Healthy Families program at Meeting Street, said Tink Knit provides an invaluable opportunity for local single mothers.

“Some of the moms in our program have no other means of income,” Rocha said. “For other families, their circumstances may prevent them from getting a traditional job, and Tink Knit is a huge opportunity for them to generate some earnings that can cover necessities for their family.”